A.P. Dash

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A. P. DASH is the vice chancellor of Central University of Tamil Nadu, Thiruvarur. He is Credited with Ph. D. and D. Sc. degrees in Zoology, Dr Dash is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, Academy of Medical Sciences and many other scientific organisations and Academies. He has significantly contributed in the field of biomedical science, particularly on transmission biology of tropical diseases affecting the poorest of the poor. Prof. Dash has devoted his career in developing various tools / technologies / strategies in biomedical science. His notable contributions include: establishing Anopheles annualris as an important vector in rural areas and identification of telomerase activity in gametocytes of Plasmodium falciparum. He demonstrated efficacy of drug combinations. He was instrumental in proving the efficacy of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in India. His group has also shown that supplementing MDA with Integrated vector management can prevent lymphatic filariasis (LF) transmission more efficiently than MDA alone. This strategy has now been included in the LF elimination strategic plan by the World Health Organisation. He has contributed in developing an animal model for chemotherapeutic and immunological studies for parasitic diseases. Dr Dash and his colleagues also developed a simple technique for detecting dengue virus antigens in desiccated mosquitoes which serves as an important tool for surveillance. His contributions on climate change impact and on infectious diseases are noteworthy. He has played an important role in involving community in control of diseases like malaria, lymphatic filariasis, visceral leishmaniasis, dengue and chickungunya, and soil transmitted helminthiasis. His contribution in the field of ecological succession of mosquito species distributed in India is most striking. Specially, the research output correlating the change in malaria, dengue, chickungunya and filariasis epidemiology to the change in climate parameters are exemplary. His contribution on modern biology of disease vectors is especially significant and meaningful. He has also contributed in developing novel genomic markers to understand the population structure and demographic history of Indian P. vivax. In this context, he has contributed into unravelling the interesting genomic organization functional gene in the malaria parasite, P. falciparum. Such information is unique and has provided baselines for the study of genetic pattern of drug resistance and virulence associated genes in

Apart from laboratory level research activities, he also undertook field trials of various intervention measures. These activities were a unique experience to translate science into deliverable products and testing them for actual use to monitor the performance under field conditions. He has also made significant contributions on epidemiology of malaria in India and the challenges faced by the Indian programme to control malaria. He also studied along with his colleagues the histopathology of fatal respiratory distress caused by P. vivax malaria in India. He has published more than 250 papers in reputed peer reviewed journals and guided many Ph.D. and post-doctoral students, who have become successful scientists.

Career

About 40 years ago, Dr Dash had the opportunity of being trained as a biologist. The early days of investigations from a purely basic biological point of view did result in greater understanding of infectious diseases in human communities. But it also rapidly led to the realization that he needs to broaden his knowledge base as well as approach into other emerging areas of biology. His long years of experience in ICMR and a stint with Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India offered opportunities to specialize and address a variety of issues such as parasite biology, epidemiology, transmission biology, immunology and molecular biology of tropical diseases. The journey through these years made him play diverse roles:

As a field biologist he worked amongst tribal’s in remote areas like in remote areas of Orissa / Bihar border complex for nearly 5 years. These long years of experience in the field at a grass root level in the early phase of his career enabled him to understand the intricacies of field biology. It also made him realize the ground realities and challenges associated with the ‘system’ through which one needs to work in order to implement health related activities. It was a humbling phase to understand the real problems of rural India – this experience has been a source of strength and inspiration in his contributions to evolve improved health policy at global, regional and national levels in later years.

The next phase was as an academician and bench level scientist at the Regional Medical Research Centre, an ICMR unit at Bhubaneswar. Prof. Dash spent about 15 years in training and teaching Ph.D. students and publishing research papers in peer reviewed journals of international repute; this was a phase during which all the departments of the new ICMR institute at Bhubaneswar had to be built from scratch. He had the privilege of building the Divisions of Medical Entomology & Parasitology to make them one of the most productive units in the country. All through this phase he was a master trainer of trainers in the area of malaria, imparting practical working knowledge to health care professionals as well as grass root level investigators in government and non-government organizations. Extending consultancy services to national and international agencies were part of his routine activities. This was the time when he was matured enough to take responsibilities of premier research institutes of the country and moved to Institute of Life sciences, Bhubaneswar as its Director.

After working in research and guiding Ph.D. for more than 35 years at the Institute of Life Sciences and Indian Council of Medical Research, he joined the South East Asia Regional Office of the World Health Organisation as Scientist and Regional Adviser and spearheaded the programmes on neglected tropical diseases, climate change etc. at the international level. Developed several technical strategies and guidelines followed by countries in South East Asia. The strategies developed under his leadership are now followed by numerous countries. Dr Dash was pioneer in strengthening and establishing research and academic capacities; and networking of centres of excellence in many countries in South East Asia Region. He delivered plenary lectures at several meetings at global level organised a number of international meetings and strengthened the capacity of many countries on biomedical research. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Maldives reached the point of elimination of lymphatic filariasis, a disease affecting the poorest of the poor. The burden of this disease was also significantly reduced in many countries including India. Strategies developed under his leadership are now adopted for elimination of visceral leishmaniasis and control & prevention of dengue. Dr Dash contributed to the development of the gobal strategies for malaria control and elimination and also the global strategy on dengue. During this period, Dr Dash demonstrated exceptional organizational ability, accomplishing many complex tasks in complicated situations in many countries including India, through diligence, foresight and sound judgment. Through his capable leadership, he inspired all personnel who worked with him to such an extent that all assigned missions were performed consistently in an exemplary manner in management of neglected tropical diseases in marginalized communities. MEMBERSHIP IN VARIOUS IMPORTANT COMMITTEES

Distinguished Scientist Chair: After superannuation from the World Health Organisation, Dr Dash occupied the “Distinguished Scientist Chair” at the Institute of Life Sciences (Department of Biotechnology, Government of India), Bhubaneswar since 11 May 2015. International

Regional Programme Review Group (for elimination of lymphatic filariasis) of the World Health Organisation (SEARO) Regional Technical Advisory Group (for elimination of Kala-azar) of the World Health Organisation (SEARO) Regional Technical Advisory Group (Dengue control and prevention) of the World Health Organisation (SEARO) Task Force on Diseases targeted for elimination, World Health Organisation (SEARO)

National

Member, Australia – India Educational Council. Chairman, Expert Group, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Government of India, Delhi. Chairman, Scientific Advisory Committee, Vector Control Research Centre, Pondicherry. Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, National Institute of Virology, Pune. Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, National Institute of Malaria Research, New Delhi. Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Desert Medicine Research Centre, Jodhpu. Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Regional Medical Research Centre, Port Blair Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Regional Medical Research Centre, Dibrugarh. Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute for Medical Sciences, Patna Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Centre for Research in Medical Entomology, Madurai Member, Scientific Advisory Group for Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases of Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. Member, High Power Committee on Climate Change, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. Member, Fellowship committee of Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. Member, Vector Borne Disease Science Foprum of Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. Member, Task force on Research projects from North East on Communicable Diseases, Indian Council of Medical Research, and New Delhi

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